Irad Ortiz Jr will realise a long-held ambition if he can ride a winner on his first appearance at Royal Ascot this week.
The crack American-based Puerto Rican is no stranger to big-race success and is widely regarded as one of the best jockeys in the world, having collected a host of Grade One victories across North America over the past decade, together with three Eclipse awards.
The 29-year-old is already in double figures when it comes to Breeders’ Cup wins and on Saturday won the Belmont Stakes – the final leg of the American Triple Crown – for a second time aboard Mo Donegal.
And for all his accomplishments on the other side of the Atlantic, Ortiz Jr would take immense satisfaction from victory at the Royal meeting.
“I feel great, it’s a lovely place and it’s a dream come true to be here, honestly. Just to be here is amazing for me,” he told the PA news agency.
“I rode Acapulco at York (second in the Nunthorpe in 2015), but to ride at Royal Ascot is something amazing and something different and something I always wanted to do.
“It was very special and a great feeling to win the Belmont, but now I’m here, so let’s see if we can do something, hopefully we can.”
Ortiz Jr has a strong book of five rides for trainer Wesley Ward, kicking off with Golden Pal in the King’s Stand on Tuesday.
He has steered the four-year-old to all but one of his six career wins, including two Breeders’ Cup triumphs, and is relishing the opportunity to ride him at Ascot.
He added: “He’s a great horse and a fast horse and I know he has a good chance.
“They told me the track is good. I will have to walk the course and have a feel, but hopefully he will handle the straight track – I expect he will.”
The following afternoon Ortiz Jr will partner runaway Keeneland winner Love Reigns in the Queen Mary, as well as Seismic Spirit in the Windsor Castle Stakes.
After a day off on Thursday, he is set to ride Ruthin in Friday’s Palace of Holyroodhouse Stakes before jumping on dual Royal Ascot heroine Campanelle in the Platinum Jubilee on Saturday.
“Love Reigns is a nice filly. I rode her first time out and she was very impressive, so let’s see if she can do it second time out,” he said.
“I’m excited about Campanelle. She showed a good turn of foot last time out, so we stay positive and keep fingers crossed.
“It means a lot to be here and it would be a dream come true to win just one race. I would like to win on every horse, but just to win on one would be amazing. Nothing compares to this.”